We are well overdue for a smartphone that can work for us, instead of one that we struggle with for basic functionality. In other words, it’s time to enter the mainstream. And with that, we’d like your help, your opinion.
Mobile phone cookies in Kyrgyzstan. If only choosing a phone were as easy as eating one.
During the last few months, our mobile phone situation has been a bit of a disaster. First, our HTC smartphone — which was lackluster and slow (it ran Windows) — was stolen in a market in Cochabamba, Bolivia. More recently, the microphone on our ancient Sony Ericsson back-up phone died, underscoring that mobile communicators cannot live on SMS alone. And long before that, we carried various Palm PDAs that did some things very well while always conveniently neglecting to include Wifi.
Current Smartphone Thinking
We would like two devices (one for each of us because we plan to use our devices to read books). As such, only one of the devices absolutely needs to be a phone. The gadget combinations we are currently noodling:
1) Two iPhones – we will own all Mac, and Mac will in turn own us
2) One iPhone, one iPod Touch – same as above, but a little bit of variety and a bit less expensive
3) One iPhone and one Google Nexus One – more variety, allows us to use and test competing units on-the-road; drawback = compatibility and sharing
4) Another dark-horse under-appreciated phone of your choosing
Whatever our decisions, we plan to make our purchase during an upcoming return trip to the United States. Our goal is to use our phones in places like Eastern Europe, East Africa and the Middle East (anyone sensing an “East” theme?) and beyond.
Even a mahout in Cambodia is better connected than us.
Our needs are not exceptional, but a few key items come to mind:
1) GSM network capability
The phone needs to take a GSM SIM chip from any country in the world and work on the local GSM provider network straight away. This means we need to have a phone that can be purchased unlocked, or which can easily be unlocked after purchase. We’ll jailbreak and hack as needed, but we’d like to keep that to a minimum.
2) Kindle application
We have previously resisted the idea of reading books on a device, but we’re coming around, having been convinced through conversations with friends (there’s the boca a boca thing again) that it’s time to make the switch. Given our travel schedule and line of work, we need to keep things light.
Not to mention, quality bookstores and book exchanges are difficult to come by. We have no idea who reads some of the stuff we’ve found at book exchanges in Latin America. We can’t imagine the selection getting any better in Africa. With Kindle, we’ll be able to buy any book we’d like when we want it (provided we have an internet connection). We can’t tell you how liberating this sounds.
3) GPS capability
We’re a bit geo-crazy, especially when it comes to our photos. If we take a photo with the phone we’d like it to automatically be geotagged. Additionally, we’d like to be able to use Google Maps and other applications that are geo-aware and support geo-location.
Hoping to catch up with this imam in Tajikistan in terms of our mobile communications technology.
4) WordPress, Twitter and Facebook applications
We are looking forward to the day when we can update Twitter, Facebook, and our website on the fly without necessarily having to pull out our laptops. Needless to say, the web browsing experience should be terrific.
5) A wide range of other awesome applications
Some argue that a smartphone is only as strong as the energy of its application developer network.
There are probably hundreds of other applications that we won’t be able to live without once we’ve found out about them. If you have a favorite application, please let us know about it in the comments section below.
So boca a boca, what’s your advice? Which smartphone should we buy and why?
And Where Should We Buy It?
2) Your friend is upgrading to the latest and greatest and wants to sell his at a favorable price to some sweet, kind travel bloggers
3) Your e-tailer of choice
Thank you in advance for your help!